Residential Schools(5 Posts)
What are your feelings on having children atttend residential special needs schools?
My name is Raeann, I am visually impaired. I attended the Indiana School for the Blind, a day and residential school, for blind and visually impaired children, ages three to nineteen years old, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
When I was four years old, I began attending the school. The local public school, lacked the facilities for me to attend there school, they did not have the adaptive technology that I needed to succeed in the classroom, an aide or a vision teacher, so my parents enrolled me in the blind school. The school considered me a residential student, during the week I stayed at school. A bus would take me to school on Sunday and not bring me home until Friday. My dormitory had eight other girls. Weekends, Christmas, spring, and summer vacations, were the only times I went home. The school was like my home away from home, the people in my dorm were like my family. On the weekends I had a nice visit with my family. Summer vacation was like a breathe of fresh air, three whole months with my family at home. The only time I remember going home during the week is when I was seven years old. My dad was taking classes, he would pick me up after school, take me home over night, bring me back early the next morning. Being able to go home during the week to see my family was like a rainbow. It only lasted a few weeks before it had to end, I was so tired at school that I started falling a sleep in class.
My school was a five day boarding school, where the whole school closed on the weekends and everyone went home. My family lived an hour and a half from the school. My best friends Jessica and Lisa, lived at the other end of the state, had to ride the bus for five hours twice a week, just to attend school.
While at school, I stayed in a variety of different dorms. All of the girls in my dorm were around my age. Now I will try to give an accurate description of each dorm.
When I began school at age four, I was in Alder Hall dorm 3/4. As you entered the dorm, you were in a living room, with a television, couches, chairs, and tables. To the left was a short hallway full of toys. At the beginning of the hallway was a sleeping room with five little beds, closets, chairs, an identical room was at the end of the hallway. The bathroom was across the hall from the sleeping room, the bathroom had three sinks, three toilets, two shower stalls and a large bathtub next to the showers. This was dorm 3/4 in Alder Hall.
At the age of five, I moved to Lambert Hall dorm 3. As you entered the dorm, you were in a living room with a television, couches, chairs, and tables and a pantry full of snacks. As you left the living room you entered a long hallway with a storage room, house parent office, and an extra bed room on the left side of the hallway. A large bathroom was on the right side of the hallway, the bathroom had three sinks, three toilets, two shower stalls and a large bathtub next to the showersThe end of the hallway was a large sleeping area that partitioned beds into sections of three each, for a total of sixteen beds, closets, and chairs, clothes drawers were attached to the end of each bed. The residential students slept in the front of the room, day students slept in the back of the room. This was dorm 3 in Lambert Hall.
At the age of eight, I moved to Wilson Hall dorm 4. As you entered the dorm, you were in a hallway with a television room on the right, a storage room and laundry room on the left. Then you entered a living room with a television, couches, a house parents office, and doors leading out to a screened in patio. Behind the living room was a kitchen with tables and chairs for doing homework, a pantry for students to store their snacks, and a stove for cooking Sunday dinners in the dorm. Their were two sleeping rooms off the kitchen with eight beds, benches and a row of lockers. One sleeping room was for residential students the other was for day students. The bathroom had three sinks, three toilets, four shower stalls and a bathtub next to the showers. This was dorm 4 in Wilson Hall.
At the age of eleven, I moved to Girls Quad dorm J. The dormitory was a large three story brick building that looked like an apartment building from the outside. The first floor of the dorm was storage and laundry rooms. As you went up the stairs to the second floor, you saw a large room with doors leading off to smaller rooms. If you turned to the left, you saw a kitchen, bathroom, activity room that had in it a piano, Nintendo, ping pong table, television, tables, and chairs. If you turned to your right, you saw a bedroom, lounge with couches, and a television, and a house parents office. The third floor had a bathroom and eight bedrooms. In each room there were two beds, dressers, closets, and study tables. At the start of each school year the house parent assigned each girl a room and roommate. My roommate Christina was bossy, always telling me what to do, lucky for me I got to switch roommates part way through the year and roomed with my friend Jessica the rest of the year. The bathroom had three sinks, three toilets, four shower stalls and a bathtub next to the showers. This was Girls Quad dorm J.
*FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL*
On the morning that I returned to school for the start of the new school year, my mom would go down the checklist provided by the school to make sure that I had all of the toiletries that I would need at school. I had really long hair, shampoo and conditioner were the items that my mom replaced the most for me. Then she made sure that all of my clothes were washed for the week at school. Now that my mom had all of my toiletries and clothes together and organized, the next step was for her to start packing my suitcase for school. While my mom was packing my suitcase, I was finding my stuffed animal and favorite soft blanket to take to school with me. The blanket and stuffed animal were a reminder of home for me at school. After my suitcase was packed, I placed everything by the door in a pile until it was time to leave for school. The remainder of the time was spent playing games with my sisters. In the afternoon, when my mom said it was time to leave for school, I would say good bye to my sisters, my mom would put my suitcase in the car, then we would pull out of the driveway to start the hour and a half drive to school.
When we arrived at school, my mom would park the car in front of the administration building, when we went inside I would have to wait in a long line to make sure I was in the correct grade and dorm. Then we would get back in the car and drive to my dorm. My mom would meet my dorm parent. I would be shown which bed and closet were mine, my mom would help me unpack my suitcase, put my things away in my closet and make my bed for me. We would say good bye in the entry way to the dorm, then she would leave the school to go back home.
I never really had a chance to be sad when my mom left, there was to much for me to do in the dorm, I immediately found my friends to haar stories of there summer. After all of the parents had left, our dorm parent made us dinner. After dinner, we continued to tell each other about our summer vacation, until it was time to go to the back to school dance. The dorm parent would take us to the gym for the dance, the music was so loud that you could hear it as soon as you left the dorm. The center of the gym was the dance floor. Tables and chairs were placed around the edge of the gym, if you wanted to talk or for when you got tired of dancing. A corner of the room had tables piled full of snack foods, cookies, chips, pops and candy bars. I danced most of the time we were there, I only stopped when I went to get a candy bar and drink of punch from the snack table. The music was so loud that you could not talk to the person next to you without shouting at them. I was sad when we had to head back to our dorms. My legs were so wobly and tired, that I could hardly walk. When I got back to the dorm, I took a shower and went straight to bed. I felt good to be back at school with all of my friends.
It sounds as though you had quite a positive experience of your boarding school. I imagine it must be quite difficult for some families and children to say goodbye. I know that many deaf people and many blind people are very supportive of having residential schools as they can provide a sense of community. I think it is important for people to be able to choose from the full range of educational provision. Very interesting to read about your experience, thanks!
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